Baesler enters not guilty plea to simple assault charge
BISMARCK -- An attorney for North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler entered a not guilty plea on her behalf Tuesday to a simple assault charge that alleges she struck her fianc? with an object Sunday, injuring his face.
BISMARCK - An attorney for North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler entered a not guilty plea on her behalf Tuesday to a simple assault charge that alleges she struck her fiancé with an object Sunday, injuring his face.
Attorney Justin Vinje said after the arraignment in Bismarck Municipal Court that now isn’t the time to get into specifics about the case.
“When that time comes, the facts will plainly show that Kirsten did not do this and she is innocent of this charge,” he said.
Baesler did not appear with Vinje in court, which is common for a Class B misdemeanor charge. She faces up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine if convicted.
Municipal Judge William Severin allowed Baesler to remain free on $150 cash bond and ordered her to have no contact with her fiancé and alleged victim, Todd Tschosik.
A court trial was set for March 23, but Vinje said there’s a “very good likelihood” that Baesler will request a jury trial and the case will be transferred to district court.
City Prosecutor Paul Fraase declined to comment on the specifics of the charge. The complaint alleges Baesler “struck her boyfriend, Todd Tschosik, with an object causing injury to his face” at his home in the 1100 block of Southport Loop in Bismarck.
Police were called to the home at 1:43 a.m. Sunday and arrested Baesler later that day at her home in Mandan. She was briefly jailed at the Burleigh County Detention Center and was bailed out by her sister.
Baesler, 45, said in a statement released by her spokesman Sunday that said an argument with the 49-year-old Tschosik “escalated to the point where I was concerned for my safety,” and that it wasn’t the first situation where she felt at risk.
In a statement Monday from his attorney, Tschosik said it’s “disappointing that there has been an attempt to discredit me personally as well as what happened. There are other witnesses to verify what took place, but out of respect for the legal process and Ms. Baesler, I decline further comment at this time.”
Tschosik also denied assaulting Baesler in an incident that led to him being arrested for battery last summer by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, Fla. The charge was later dropped.
A copy of the police report obtained by Forum News Service says that Baesler, Tschosik and Baesler’s twin 20-year-old sons were staying in the same room at the Grand Floridian hotel near Walt Disney World.
One of the sons told police he awoke to see Tschosik straddling his mother with his hands around her neck. The son said he jumped out of bed and fought with Tschosik, and police observed that the son had a large scratch over his chest, which he said happened during the fight.
Baesler had a large bump on her forehead, just above her left eye, which she said she got when she fell and hit her head at the park, the report states.
Baesler told police that “Todd was physical” and that he had straddled her and held her down by her shoulders saying, “this is it,” the report states.
Tschosik wouldn’t talk with police and wasn’t being cooperative, and he smelled of alcohol and swayed from side to side when he stood up, the report states. Police observed he had a small cut to his lower lip and a cut over his left eyebrow.
While being transported after his arrest, Tschosik said he was set up by Baesler and her children, the report states. He said as he returned to the room, he kissed Baesler, and her son attacked him without warning.
Baesler refused to complete a statement and said she didn’t want to involve police, the report states. The prosecutor dropped the battery charge about a month later.
In his statement Monday, Tschosik called the Florida incident “regrettable” but said there was no assault on Baesler.
Baesler was in Orlando to attend a summer institute put on by the Council of Chief State School Officers, which ran July 9-12, according to Dale Wetzel, spokesman for the state Department of Public Instruction.
The $1,680.59 in state money spent on the trip covered her lodging, airfare, miscellaneous expenses such as parking fees and taxis, and some meals, Wetzel wrote in an email.
“There was no taxpayer money spent to have her sons or Mr. Tschosik accompany her,” he wrote.
Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at email@example.com .